Child care and the labor shortage

March 16, 2022

As the pandemic and the Great Resignation continue, nearly every industry is experiencing unprecedented difficulties in recruiting new talent. The warehouse industry, already burdened by traditionally high turnover rates, has been hit especially hard by these recent disruptions, causing a growing labor shortage.

While the reasons behind employee resignations might vary, be it from poor management or stagnant wages, there is a new and concerning aspect to the Great Resignation; and companies are just starting to take notice.

Employees lack child care
Recently, many companies are increasing wages and offering sign-on bonuses to attract new talent, but the extra money might not be enough to gain attention in a crowded market, according to Supply Chain Brain. As the Great Resignation lends workers more power to choose their employers, employees are looking for more than just a wage increase of a few dollars per hour. This is especially true for parents in the workforce who need to think about supporting their children.

Without things like standardized schedules, benefits and proper child care, parents are unable to leave their children to go to work. This has become particularly important during the ongoing pandemic as young students are frequently sent home for virtual learning when new school cases emerge. For warehouse employers to mend the talent shortage and stem the labor loss, they must first sufficiently accommodate their employees' needs.

The Great Resignation and the gender gap
As the cost of living goes up and labor shortages continue to impact the child care industry itself, access to affordable child care has become hard to come by for many parents, NPR reports. This growing inaccessibility has meant that, oftentimes, one parent is forced to leave their job to take care of the children. And according to Axios, this is usually the mothers as "women are far likelier than men to take on additional tasks like child care and housework while working from home. These burdens have pushed mothers across America out of the workforce."

The Gusto study, on which Axios based its article, found that more U.S. women quit their jobs than men in Jan. 2022 (4.1% compared to 3.4%). This is only a 0.7% difference; however, in states with more child care disruptions, this gender gap is around 1.7%. Meanwhile, states with fewer child care disruptions had a difference that was close to zero. 

What does this mean for the warehouse industry?

As warehouse employers develop new recruitment strategies, they must keep the lives of their employees in mind. Leaders need to realize that they benefit from child care as much as their employees do — because, without it, there wouldn't be a workforce to operate the warehouse in the first place. Here are a three simple ways warehouses can support employee child care:

  • Standardize schedules so no one is surprised.
  • Allow flexibility to arrange child care and maintain a work-life balance.
  • Provide health insurance and other benefits starting from day one.

While supply chain leaders can't fix the current woes of the child care industry, they can implement new and improved child care benefits that appeal to parents. This untapped candidate pool can bring in valuable talent and create a more supportive work environment.